Over the past thirty years, the number of children with obesity has increased drastically. The main reason is their sedentary way of life and spending too much time watching TV or playing video games.
Parents and caregivers have responsibility to limit the time a child can watch TV or play games and to plan their free time more productively. They should incorporate exercise into everyday routines, such as walking instead of taking the bus, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The best way to motivate a child is for adults to set them example.
Life of a child is full of physical activities since from an early age children are enjoying playing. Sometimes adults, who picture exercising as lifting weights or sweating in a gym, do not realize the importance of children\'s play.
Endurance, strength and flexibility are three elements of fitness and all can be seen in a simple children\'s play. For example, when they are chasing one another, when they cross monkey bars and when they bend down to tie shoelaces.
Parents and teachers have the responsibility to animate their children to to various activities which practice all three elements of fitness. Endurance is practiced when children take part in aerobic activities. These kinds of activities increase heart rate and accelerate breathing which, if done regularly, enables the body to provide oxygen to all the cells and strengthens heart. Aerobic activities include running, walking, skating, cycling, playing basketball, soccer, tennis, swimming. Besides being useful, these activities can be fun and enjoyable.
Strength is not achieved only by lifting weights, and children who do lift weights must have adult supervision in all times. Children practice this element of fitness during their play, for example while climbing or wrestle, but they can also do sit-ups, push-ups, crunches and other similar exercises for toning muscles.
Flexibility is improved by stretching which is an activity incorporated in children\'s life since the earliest age. Small children stretch when trying to reach something, or they do a cartwheel.
Not all children should do the same exercises nor spend the same time doing them.
There are no special requirements for infants, but children at the age of two should spend half an hour doing planned activity and one hour daily playing freely. Pre-school children should spend one hour doing planned activity, and school children one hour or more.
Exercise has many benefits for a child\'s life. Children who engage in physical activity has stronger muscle and bone structure, they have leaner body because they burn excess fat, they are less likely to develop obesity and type 2 diabetes. Also, physical activity helps control blood pressure and levels of cholesterol in blood, so all in all, active children have a better chance to be healthy adults. Besides having positive effect on a child\'s health, exercises help children have a better sleep and cope with stress better, as well as have longer attention span. It is equally important for parents to incorporate healthy diet in their child\'s life, because junk food can diminish the positive effects of exercising.